BCUC approves BC Hydro’s 2021 Integrated Resource plan and confirms need for new energy

by Tom Hackney and Bill Andrews

20 March 2024

After an intensive three-year review, the BC Utilities Commission has quickly approved BC Hydro’s 2021 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

The 2021 IRP, updated in June 2023, is designed to ramp up or down the acquisition of new electricity resources depending on how quickly or slowly the Province’s plans for electrification are realized. In contrast to Hydro’s previous IRP (finalized in 2013), the 2021 IRP is built on scenarios for different possible futures, including an Accelerated Electrification load scenario that would see demand for energy on Hydro’s system increasing by almost 50% by 2040. Each scenario has been extensively modeled. 

BCSEA is pleased to see that the BCUC’s decision expressly supports BC Hydro’s planning work, especially the elements that promote flexibility. Flexibility will become increasingly important as the pressure increases to decarbonize BC’s energy systems.

The BCUC decision finds that BC Hydro has definitively established the need for it to acquire 3,000 GWh/year of new clean/renewable electricity and an additional 700 GWh/year from existing IPP facilities, by fiscal 2029. This accords with the Province’s announcement in June 2023 that BC Hydro will make a call for clean, renewable power in 2024, as part of the Province’s climate action and energy transition plans.

Significantly, the BCUC also endorsed BC Hydro’s proposal to speed up the IRP development and review process. The Commission’s decision requires BC Hydro to file the next IRP by October of 2025, just 18 months from now. BCSEA strongly supports an accelerated long-term electricity resource planning process. The ten year gap between approval of BC Hydro’s 2013 IRP and approval of the Updated 2021 IRP is unacceptable in these times of rapidly evolving climate and energy policy.

BCSEA intervened jointly with the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association. We strongly supported BC Hydro’s application.